- 9am ? Perfect timing for a smoked salmon tasting !
What’s more refreshing than a smoked salmon tasting at 9am on Saturday?
One month ago, Tom, a food critic, invited me to a tasting at H. Forman and Son… In Hackney Wick… Never been before… Hackney yes, Hackney Wick, never heard… Well, it’s a very arty area, loads of factories transformed in flats or cafes, dead on that morning as the whole London was. It was again bloody snowing (excuse my French) so everybody was grumpy (I was at least), fed up and thought that because of a big lack of vitamin D, sun bedding would be the only way not to fall in depression.
So that morning I was not very objective, I just tried, coming from West, to reach the place on time and brave the snow after a long night shift and 4 hours sleep.
Pleasantly surprised when I arrived to see that a warm tea and salmon were waiting for us.
Lance Forman himself was here to tell us his story. He is the great grand-son of Harry Forman, founder of the company when just arrived from Russia and stopped imported salmon form the Baltic when he found some much closer, in Scotland. That’s how it’s all started…
During the tasting we heard the little anecdotes about the family and a lot about salmon. From the way they put down the fish (a less traumatic way than the one used in Norway for example) till the very end, packing for their clients, the whole process is made by hand.
After its arrival (within 24 hours with being caught) the fish is cleaned, cut, sprinkled with rock salt, and filleted by hand.
While some producers don’t have any ethical problem by using machines which damage the flesh if it’s too fresh, H. Forman and Son care and aim for respect and freshness first.
Some less scrupulous inject brine and leave the pellicle intact (the chewy one formed by smoking) to increase salmon’s weight then add sugar to hide the saltiness. What a complicated process to raise margins!
We had 8 different salmons to taste from H. Forman and Son and their competitors followed by a tour of the factory and the kitchen.
Salmon is what they are famous for, for more than 100 years, they created a wide range of aromatic gravlax, wasabi and ginger (my favorite), sweet beetroot, Thai-spiced, Vodka, chilli and lime, tequila and parsley, and because they expanded during this century they deliver to your door complete picnic hampers, all sort of delicatessen and ready to eat dishes.
As you understood, H.Forman and Son don’t laugh with the respect of the tradition and fight very hard to keep that level of quality.
Thanks to them, we now know how to chose the perfect smoked salmon, no sugar at all and a little bit of salt.
They serve supermarkets and if like me you don’t do supermarket, they provide the Whole Food Market and fishmongers around London, so no more excuses.
H. Forman & Son
Stour Road, Fish Island, London E3 2NT
Telephone: 0208 5252 399
Facsimile: 0208 5252 398